And yet more flash fiction, because why the hell not. The opening line for this one is provided by Anne Liljeström: “I don’t know how long I just stood there, drawing shallow, shaky breaths, before I could open my eyes and look in the mirror.”
So, so many ways you could go with that one. This is the one I picked.
I don’t know how long I just stood there, drawing shallow, shaky breaths, before I could open my eyes and look in the mirror.
I didn’t see anything. I cocked my head left and right, narrowed my eyes and peered at my features, but it all seemed normal. It was just me. The fear subsided. It was ridiculous, what he’d said.
“I don’t see a… Mark of Satan,” I said. I felt like an idiot, just saying it out loud.
“Oh, well, look at Little Miss Expert,” the dwarf called from the other room. “What, you think it’s just there for anybody to see? You gotta have an eye for it. Hell, you’re the last person’s ever gonna notice it. That’s how they do it.”
I left the bathroom and walked over to him. He was still there, cuffed to the radiator of his crappy little bedroom, blood all over his chin. He peered up at me and grinned with red teeth. “Yep, there it is, right on your forehead. The Mark of Satan, and let me tell you, lady, it’s a doozy. They got you goood.”
“Shut up,” I said. “Do you think I’m stupid?”
“I think you’re too messed up for smart or stupid to matter. Otherwise you’d worry.”
“It’s not real. You’re just making it up.”
He chortled. “Okay, I’m making it up. That’s why you just showed up and kicked the shit out of me.”
“For Christ’s sake…” I showed him my badge. “You see this, pal? I’m a cop. I’m just doing my job.”
He peered at it and nodded. “You sure are. Great police work, Detective, you definitely cracked the case of the guy minding his own business until a crazy woman kicked him in the teeth for no reason she could articulate. How’re you gonna write this one up?”
He saw my confusion, and talked to me like I was a child. “What’d I do? What’s the charge? Where’s your warrant?”
I was quiet.
“You gonna take me in? Why’d you come here? Why’d you pick my door?” He coughed and spat blood at my feet. “Christ, do you even know my name?”
I didn’t say anything.
“You’re doing Satan’s work, lady.”
I felt the angry flush on my face. I took a hold of my t-shirt’s neckline and pulled it down, showed him the cross. “I’m Catholic, you son of a bitch.”
He laughed again. “What’s that got to do with anything?”
I let my hand drop, felt it snake behind my back, find the holster. I took out my gun, its weight familiar in my hand.
The dwarf went pale. “That’s probably standard arrest procedure, right?”
“You’re going downtown,” I said, and I chambered a round. “Can’t talk your way out of this one.”
He swallowed, found a weak sneer and gave it to me, shook his head. “Lady, I ain’t talking my way out of shit. I was dead the moment you walked in here.”
I didn’t say anything.
We were quiet like that for a moment, and he looked at me with wet eyes, and there was something like hope in them. “Okay, look, listen to me.” His voice cracked. “Just – don’t. Just fight it, you can walk away, okay? I know you’re not in control, but walk away. Just walk away. Okay? Don’t do it.”
“Do what?” I asked, and took off the safety.
His voice went up. “Don’t kill me. You said it, you’re a cop, you’re with the good guys, right? Please don’t kill me.”
“You’re insane,” I said. “You’re crazy. Yeah, I’m a cop. Why would I kill you?”
I shot him in the chest twice, the recoil running up my arm, startling me. The sound boxed my ears. Suddenly, my head felt very, very warm.
He gurgled. He raised a weak hand, pointed a finger right at me.
“There it is,” he said. He laughed through the pain, and blood bubbled on his chest. “There it is.”
I swallowed hard, my heart hammering. The fear was bad.
“What’s happening?” I asked.
I shot him in the neck, and his head jerked to the side, remained at a strange angle. He twitched and gurgled some more, every ragged breath weaker than the last. He slid down until he was in a heap on the floor, just that one hand pointing up, still attached to the radiator by the handcuffs.
“What’s happening?” I whispered as I holstered the gun. There was a blinding heat behind my eyes, and something vast and heavy thundered in my ears, like distant waves, or a wind moving in the trees.
The dwarf’s mouth moved, and he looked up at me, the light going out in his eyes. I couldn’t hear anything. My head felt like a blast furnace.
I was outside the apartment building, and the people on the street were swarming. I heard raised voices. They were pointing at the building, shouting on top of each other, looking worried. Scared.
I stepped away, gathered my thoughts. I wasn’t sure what I was doing there. I looked at my watch and swore. I was already a half an hour late for my shift. I hadn’t even called. The Lieutenant wouldn’t like it.
I fast-walked towards my car, getting into the swing of it, digging my phone out of my pocket. Better call in, do some damage control. I got an early start today, had to meet a CI. Sure, he’d buy that. Sorry, forgot to call first. No point in getting into details, just make the best of it. I looked up from my phone as two squad cars raced past me, stopped in front of the apartment building.
I leaned against the car, hit the speed dial, looked at the building. The kind of place cops got called to every day. Christ, I thought, some people just lived like animals.
Then he picked up, and I busied myself with the call.
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